Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WHEY PROTEIN: isolate or concentrate?

To be or not to be?  Isolate or concentrate?

Whey is one of the highest quality protein powders.  Lately, I use whey protein as part of my regular diet because my nutrition is deficient on proteins.  I am not a meat lover and my meat consumption is very limited.  I don't like milk either.  

Many years ago I was a vegetarian, I am not one anymore, but I love salads and vegetarian food.  I don't like cooking, I hate being in the kitchen and I enjoy healthy eating - how do you reconcile that?

Eating out is a necessity for me.  To make it more fun, I do a lot of social dining.  In that way, I can kill two birds with one stone:  I socialize with my friends and I eat at the same time.  But when you eat out most of the time, good nutrition becomes an issue.  For that reason, I reinforce my diet with whey and vitamins.     

Whey builds muscle, reduces body fat, it's good for high blood pressure, supports immune health and more.  The most notable difference of whey is its higher percentage of essential amino acids, and specifically, amino acid leucine, which is good to increase the synthesis of muscle protein.  It's also a great after-workout meal. 

When you buy whey protein, you may see the label isolate or concentrate.  

I like to educate myself on nutrition, but it can be confusing and frustrating. One day milk is good.  Then milk is no good.  Coffee is good. Coffee is no good, caffeine is good, caffeine is no good...and on and on with so many food products and supplements.

And guess what?  Same thing with whey protein.  Which one is better:  isolate or concentrate?  Opinions vary.

Until I bought my last isolate whey protein a couple of weeks ago, I had always read that isolate is better because it's more pure than concentrate.

But just a couple of days ago I read that Ori Hofmekler, who is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to fitness, said that isolate is inferior.  "I'm totally against whey isolate," Ori says, "I think it's just the wrong whey."   Oh yeah, just to drive me crazy. 

So, which one is better - isolate or concentrate?

At this point, I don't know.  I cannot answer that question because I have read from different reliable sources and their positions contradict each other.  And just before finishing this writing, I went online to see what else I could find and I was shocked about the myriad of articles asking my same question - isolate or concentrate?

I do know one thing, though.  I recently bought the isolate jar shown below and paid good money for it, so I intend to finish it regardless of the experts opinions. 

Whey is good and both isolate and concentrate have different benefits.  I think the important thing is to buy a high quality protein powder, and you can't go wrong.  Generic or cheap stuff- I stay away from that.  For my health I want the best.  

If we want to be healthy and live healthy, we have to eat healthy. We are what we eat.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Memorial Day it's not all about hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue.  Let's remember our heroes.

Let's pause to give thanks for the people who fought for our freedom.

The price of freedom:



Makes you proud to be an AMERICAN.


Several times a year I visit the Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  Not only this is a beautiful hotel notorious for its magnificent fountains, but I particularly enjoy seeing the flowers at the gardens.  It is a small indoor garden, but a very beautiful space worth visiting.

The botanical gardens change with the season, which includes Chinese New Year, Summer Garden, Fall Harvest and Winter Holiday.  My most recent visit was to the Summer Garden. 

Each season the elaborated decorations are spectacular.  I never get tired of visiting these gardens and not once have I been disappointed.  

With the creativity of the gardeners, horticulturalists and landscape architects in charge of this garden, for me, more than a garden, this is an art exhibition made with flowers. The work involved, dedication, skills and eye for detail of the garden staff is really impressive.

The flowers are watered by hand each day.  Between the hours of 10:30 am to 11:30 am, Mr. & Mrs. Green Thumb are there to answer questions about the garden.  From 5 pm to 6 pm, music performers will delight you with great tunes making your visit even more enjoyable.  

Always make a point to visit the Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio when you are in Las Vegas.  It's stunning, it smells good, it opens 24 hours a day and it's free.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012


The Stratosphere

One of the things that I enjoy, weather permitting, is driving with my sunroof open to brighten my driving experience. Within a few weeks summer will be here which means I will no longer be able to do that.

While waiting at the red traffic lights in my car, sometimes I look up and see something that prompts me to take my camera and "click" from my driver's seat.

Below are some pictures I have taken from my sunroof.

The Palazzo Hotel
Bellagio Hotel
Paris Hotel
Planet Hollywood

Monday, May 21, 2012


Las Vegas Athletic Club, commonly known as LVAC, is one of the best and most popular health clubs in Las Vegas.  My second home, I could say.  There are several LVACs in Las Vegas and in Henderson, but I go to the one on Rainbow Blvd. & Lake Mead, just ten minutes from my home.

The club opens 24 hours, 365 days – yeap, my kind of gym.

The Rainbow facility is a two-story building with approximately 48000 square feet and it's a fully equipped gym.  The cardio room is full of treadmills and elliptical machines.  In the front wall, there is a big screen showing musical videos.  The background music of the gym is from these videos. There are six smaller TV monitors on each size of the larger screen showing local and cable tv programs in mute.  Some machines have their own TV with an iPod connector.  The music and audiovisuals really make the time go faster when you are on a treadmill or elliptical machine. 

The club offers a plethora of classes from early morning until 9 pm. There are three exercise rooms, two on the first floor and one upstairs.  Some of the classes, to name a few, are Zumba, kick boxing, MRT (muscle resistance training), pilates, yoga, body pump, HotHula, Sh'Bam and Piloxing. 

The indoor running track is upstairs and circles around the building.  While I’ve never used the track, I understand that it’s 7 laps around to make a mile.

And for families with children, there is a kid's playroom where the parents can leave their children while they workout. A reservation is required and there are monitors around the club showing the playroom in case parents want to take a quick glance at what their children are doing. No extra money for this service, this in included in the membership. 

One of the things that I like about this gym is that it has a women fitness area. This is a small gym within a gym.  All the machines that I use are available in this area, so I have no need to use the rest of the gym.  I usually do the cardio in the the big cardio room, and the rest of my workout in the women area. 
The lady’s locker room is ample, well kept and clean.  The cleaning ladies on the premises do a good job cleaning up our messes. Inside the women locker room, there’s a smaller room exclusively for the VIPs.  I have no access to that room, so I guess I’m not a VIP.  Also, in the locker room area, there is a sauna, a steam room, showers and two vanity areas.  From the shower area, you can walk to the Jacuzzi and to the swimming pools.  H o w e v e r, the Jacuzzi is Co-Ed.  I personally don’t like to use Jacuzzis in gyms and especially if they are co-ed.  I don’t know who created co-ed.  I  will never use anything co-ed, but many people don't mind.  

For those who like swimming or water exercises, there are two indoor swimming pools adjacent to each other.  One is often used for the water classes and the other one for lap swimmers.  As much as I like water, I find the water exercises too easy for me.  Whenever I've taken one of these classes, I feel as if I didn't exercise.  I would rather swim.

And my favorite spot in the gym is: tadaaa… the Juice Bar.  Aaah, after a good workout and a good shower, there’s nothing like a delicious, under 300 calories, protein shake.  This Juice Bar is so convenient.  After the workout, you don't have to think where to go for lunch or dinner, you can eat right there. 

My protein shake - I’ve got to have it!  It’s part of my gym ritual.  I always order the same one, a small Power Lift.  I never get tired of it.  Every now and then, I try the Berry Me and the Tropical Treat, but I always return to my Power Lift. 

In addition to the protein shakes, the juice bar has natural juices, smoothies, salads, Panini, water, power drinks, even healthy tamales (chicken, pork and pineapple).  Sometimes, maybe once a week, I’ll have a shot (1 oz) of wheat grass.  Yaak!  This is the cow in me. 

To pay for your food at the Juice Bar, you can use cash, debit/credit card or, my favorite, the Juice Bar card.  This way, you don’t have to bring any money to the gym.  I do that.  At the beginning of the month, I put the money in my card that I know I will spend during the month, and that makes it so easy. 

I don’t bring my wallet nor my cell phone to the gym.  As far as I am concerned, the world can fall apart while I am at the gym.  I just don’t care.  Nothing is important enough for me to interrupt my workout.  Of course, I don’t have children or an immediate family here.  I also take care of business before the gym, so I can enjoy peace.  When I'm done with my workout, I'll check my emails in my car. I have a great ability to disconnect from the phone and social media.  And I like it that way.

LVAC members enjoy a number of perks where you can get discounts in stores, shows, medical, massage, and many, many others.  LVAC also publishes a seasonal magazine several times a year. 

The parking lot is huge and although it may look daunting from the outside, it's not a big deal to park. On peak hours, it may be a little bit harder to find a parking space, but normally you will find parking without problem. The worst that can happen is that you have to park a little bit far, but there will always be parking available and security going around the parking lot.

I'm sure that I'm forgetting about extra features, but this will provide a good idea of where I spend hours and hours during my week and ultimately during my life. 

I have visited many gyms in US and abroad. To me, this is the best gym. Of course, I can only speak for the Rainbow facility. I’ve never been to any other LVAC and I understand that the oldest ones are not as big.  Obviously, different people will have different opinions about health clubs.  For instance, I have a friend that prefers the small family-type club.  

The moment I enter LVAC, it's like magic. The music, the energy, the great amenities, all add to a wonderful workout experience.  No doubt, this is the right place to workout, get fit and have fun. 

Is this the perfect gym?  No.  No gym is perfect. There's always room for improvement.  But for me, it's all I need and more.

Working out is a lifestyle I adopted long time ago.  LVAC, with its spacious facilities, is the place where I forget about everything. In this place I can free my mind from my own problems and the problems of the world. 

My membership allows me to bring one guest per month, so if you are a local or if you are visiting Las Vegas, hey, be my guest.  






Sunday, May 20, 2012


It’s been approximately 15 years since I attended a black and white party.  That one was in Beverly Hills, CA, an unforgettable very elegant party.

After so many years, yesterday I attended a black and white party at a home in Las Vegas.  Beautiful home owned by a couple whom I call the Numero Uno home entertainers in Southern Nevada.

This black and white party was casual, outdoors, laid back Las Vegas style.

The guests brought a variety of appetizers and desserts.   I brought a fruit tart and a bottle of wine to share.  One glass of wine is my limit.

A friend of the couple, a professional pianist, brought his keyboard and entertained us with beautiful tunes.  His music was delightful and added to the magic of the evening.  I was captured by his watch simulating a piano and he allowed me to take a picture.  

The weather could not have been any better.

It was a wonderful party.  Whether formal or casual, there’s something special about black and white parties.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Today I took a Tai Chi class at a public park in Las Vegas and I loved the fact that it was outdoors.  I had not taken Tai Chi for at least seven years. I took my first Tai Chi class in Los Angeles and the last one in Arcadia, CA.  My previous classes were always indoors. 

The class started at 5 PM.  Although it was a hot day, it was also a little windy, so it felt just fine.  And we did the class in a site with part shade.  

We were a small group of people.  About half of them had taken tai chi before and a few were taking the class for the first time.  I felt as if it was my first time.  

My previous tai chi masters in California were Chinese.  I knew that today the master here was going to be Anglo-american.  I arrived to the park a little bit early and he was already there.  I asked him about his background in tai chi and I was very pleased to hear that he has vast knowledge of all aspects of tai chi and other martial arts. He is also disciple of well known masters.

Before practicing, we did a few minutes of meditation to calm the mind and relax the body and then we proceeded with the essential postures.  

Tai Chi is a mind-body practice originated in China. This gentle form exercise is known to have a number of benefits like flexibility, balance, muscle strength, calmer mind, better concentration, just to mention a few.  And it's even considered a cardiovascular workout without the high intensity. 

Most everyone can do tai chi.  It's also a practice recommended for people suffering arthritis, heart disease, breast cancer, low bone density, Parkinson's disease, sleep problems, etc.

The best thing:  these classes are free.  And you all know how much I like that word.

It was a very enjoyable class.  I plan to do it again.  However, the master will be traveling attending tai chi activities and won't be back until June. Something to look forward to in June.

Centennial Hills Park